Nothing Is Lost Save Honor
by Lar

The first time Riley finds one of the houses, he wants to burn it to the ground. That's self-defense rearing up, telling him to get rid of the problem before it even gets a chance to sink its greedy little claws into his head and start fucking with him. Of course it's already too late for that. Just knowing that he can ID on sight is pretty much all the proof he needs to make the connection on some level that his addiction is alive and kicking.

The house is always dark. He doesn't know why they like it dark inside, but they do. The customers, that is. The ones they're paying don't much care if they do it naked under a bare hundred-watt bulb or in the shadows of the corners with everything covered up except for that one point of entry.

Riley doesn't like it when they strip. He's sure that most of them have been doing this for a long, long time. Carry over from whatever life they had before this one, the one common thread that binds that existence to this one. They smirk at him when he tells them to get dressed, like it's some stranger kink than the obvious. Some of them give him the come on, offer to fuck him while they do what he wants, like it's some kind of favor.

They like the heat; he knows that. They crave all the messy warmth they can get. They like the sweat that builds up on his body, they like the gust of his breath against their skin when he groans. The hot slick spill inside of them when he comes is as good to some of them as the spill of blood into their throats when they bite down and take that first hard suck. When it gushes out, coats their tongue, they all groan like they're in the throes of orgasm.

It's all the same. He hates being weak. But he can't help himself.

He goes back again three nights later and watches the customers straggle in and makes sure they all straggle out again, decidedly paler than when they arrived. Some of them wear that blissful dazed mask that always seemed to elude him. He can't quite find a way to be happy about what he's doing. What he did, he corrects himself roughly, although he can already feel the scars on his arms tingling, making him want to scratch the itch.

Another week passes before he returns again, a week he tries to fill by reading envelopes full of letters postmarked from from Rabbat, from Iquique, from London. Willow writes the same way she talks, long rambling sentences followed by short little bursts of information that might or might not be related to what came before it. She offers her shoulder, her ear, her phone number in case he wants to talk about Sam. He ignores those offers; he doesn't want to think about what else is missing in his life.

Xander's letters are always short, but Riley is glad to get them. Sometimes he'll mention Buffy, but coming from Xander it doesn't seem to bother him the way it would from anyone else. He mentions that he'll be in Morocco for a few more months, invites Riley to come over if he can get a pass. Riley clutches that letter for hours, reading it over and over and trying to make it be enough. In the end though, it's not.


He walks down a hallway so narrow that his shoulders scrape the walls on both sides. The only lights are bulbs that hang from the ceiling. They flicker and sway as the moths flutter around them and batter their wings against the heated shells. Their desiccated bodies crunch under his boots louder than the sounds that leak beneath the flimsy doors and between the cracks in the uneven frames all along the walls.

The girl ahead of him is a monster. She is painfully thin; her shoulder blades dance in and out of shadows as she steps from one pool of light to the next. She does not seem to be bothered by the claustrophobic closeness of this narrow place, but she doesn't need to breathe so perhaps she doesn't feel it when spaces become too small to hold both body and air all at one time.

The door she opens was white in another lifetime. Now it's gray with streaks of mold in the cracks. Riley holds his breath when he steps into the room, his last chance to escape before the claws take hold too deep to let him run. He can leave the money, walk away, if he just doesn't breathe in that first hit of wet, coppery air. But of course he does, he has to. He has no choice.

She turns to him, flipping on the light switch and shaking off her mask at the same time. The effect is startling in the sudden shift, as if something has reached from the ceiling and caught the edges of the blackness, dragged them up in the blink of an eye to let in the light. To show him that there are darker things than shadows.

He reaches for the switch before he pulls off his shirt, pushes the chair into the back corner of the room and sits down. When the girl comes to him, he lets her take all she wants. All the blood she can suck from his veins, all the sweat she can draw from his skin. The rest of it too, he gives it all to her without a sound and keeps his eyes closed. His hands come up to grab her arms as she rides him. Her skin is cold and his fingers slip away again. When he spills inside her, he can hear the sound of the moths in the halls as their wings flutter against the bare bulbs, battering themselves to death over and over again.


Silverlake: Authors / Mediums / Titles / Links / List / About / Updates / Silverlake Remix